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The right effort

I was obsessed with productivity when I started working.

Eager to assimilate as quickly as possible into the world of work, I would generally take on whatever task was put in front of me (the idea of “bandwidth” was not yet a concept to me).

One of the directors I worked with would routinely caution me not to work too much in the evening. And while I didn’t think much of this advice the time, I would later learn about the importance of boundaries and rest in the years following. That’s a story for another day, though.

Back to my point — initially, being focused solely on productivity appeared to serve me well: it exposed me to a lot of different functions in my first company, which accelerated my learning about how the business was run and how to think about it. This was invaluable.

After having taken on multiple roles with increasing levels of responsibility however, this desire to simply do that once served me so well has become more of a weakness than a strength.

Being productive and effective are not the same thing.

To be productive is to do many things.

To be effective is to accomplish actions that instrumental in helping you and your team achieve success.

This a nuanced but vitally important distinction.

In an entry level position, it’s okay to focus on productivity alone because generally speaking your manager (a good one) will help guide you towards doing the right things to do that are maximally effective.

As you assume roles with larger scopes of responsibility, however, the greater the responsibility you take on over the effectiveness of your actions. You shift from being asked to merely do, to being asked about what the right thing is to do.

In summary:

Don’t fall into the trap of producing for its own sake.

Hustling isn’t about hustling. Working isn’t about working.

Being busy doesn’t mean anything.

There’s a purpose to our efforts and it’s only after you’ve thought about what the right effort is — the specific actions that will serve you and your team the most — that you will able to champion progress.




Taiwanese American, daily blogger of ideas about impactful work in service of others, photographer (ephemera.photography)

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William Liao

William Liao

Taiwanese American, daily blogger of ideas about impactful work in service of others, photographer (ephemera.photography)

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